Security policies control all traffic attempting to pass through a unit between interfaces, zones, and VLAN subinterfaces.
Security policies are instructions that units use to decide connection acceptance and packet processing for traffic attempting to pass through. When the firewall receives a connection packet, it analyzes the packet’s source address, destination address, and service (by port number), and attempts to locate a security policy matching the packet.
Security policies can contain many instructions for the unit to follow when it receives matching packets. Some instructions are required, such as whether to drop or accept and process the packets, while other instructions, such as logging and authentication, are optional.
Policy instructions may include Network Address Translation (NAT), or Port Address Translation (PAT), or they can use virtual IPs or IP pools to translate source and destination IP addresses and port numbers.
Policy instructions may also include Security Profiles, which can specify application-layer inspection and other protocol-specific protection and logging, as well as IPS inspection at the transport layer.
You configure security policies to define which sessions will match the policy and what actions the device will perform with packets from matching sessions.
Sessions are matched to a security policy by considering these features of both the packet and policy:
- Policy Type and Subtype
- Incoming Interface
- Source Address
- Outgoing Interface
- Destination Address
- Schedule and time of the session’s initiation
- Service and the packet’s port numbers.
If the initial packet matches the security policy, the device performs the configured action and any other configured options on all packets in the session.
Packet handling actions can be ACCEPT, DENY, IPSEC, or SSL-VPN.
- ACCEPT policy actions permit communication sessions, and may optionally include other packet processing instructions, such as requiring authentication to use the policy, or specifying one or more Security Profiles to apply features such as virus scanning to packets in the session. An ACCEPT policy can also apply interface-mode IPsec VPN traffic if either the selected source or destination interface is an IPsec virtual interface.
- DENY policy actions block communication sessions, and you can optionally log the denied traffic. If no security policy matches the traffic, the packets are dropped, therefore it is not required to configure a DENY security policy in the last position to block the unauthorized traffic. A DENY security policy is needed when it is required to log the denied traffic, also called “violation traffic”.
- IPSEC and SSL VPN policy actions apply a tunnel mode IPsec VPN or SSL VPN tunnel, respectively, and may optionally apply NAT and allow traffic for one or both directions. If permitted by the firewall encryption policy, a tunnel may be initiated automatically whenever a packet matching the policy arrives on the specified network interface, destined for the local private network.
Create security policies based on traffic flow. For example, in a policy for POP3, where the email server is outside of the internal network, traffic should be from an internal interface to an external interface rather than the other way around. It is typically the user on the network requesting email content from the email server and thus the originator of the open connection is on the internal port, not the external one of the email server. This is also important to remember when viewing log messages, as the source and destination of the packets can seem backwards.